Rye-Sorghum Banana Bread with Coffee + Honey
…buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz…
It’s not just the sound outside our windows from the biggest, fuzziest pollen-drunk bees bumbling around the front bushes — I gave my banana-coconut bread a spring makeover.
Like the original, this banana bread calls on Greek yogurt and mashed bananas for texture and sweetness. Now egg-free and nut-free, featuring gelled flax and several whole grain flours, olive oil and a touch more honey than before help keep the bread tender and light.
Then there’s a splash of cold-brew coffee for the heck of it (and more necessary moisture). But don’t worry, it’s not enough to actually give you a caffeine buzz, nor for the flavor to be overtly discernible for your littles. The coffee plays more of a support role here, shining the spotlight extra brightly onto the banana + giving the bread an extra richness. (If you prefer to omit the coffee OR wish to make the bread 100% gluten-free, see the recipe HGN Notes.)
What’s in it for me?
Diets rich in whole grains + whole grain flours, as opposed to refined grains + refined grain flours, may reduce risk of diabetes, and can improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels to help prevent heart disease. Whole grain flours provide both soluble + insoluble fiber plus a small amount of healthy oils, and are virtually free of cholesterol and sodium.
Sorghum is a gluten-free whole grain (rye is not) that, when milled, creates a smooth, mild-flavored “medium-weight” flour that can be directly substituted for wheat flours in most recipes. Sorghum flour provides about 4 grams protein per 1/4 cup, plus small amounts of iron, selenium, and antioxidants. Powdery light tapioca starch — a flavorless gluten-free starch extracted from cassava root — is commonly used for thickening, and also to promote moisture retention in baking for a tender, light crumb and golden color.
One small banana is only about 90 calories, but provides more than 10% of your daily recommended intake of potassium, fiber, manganese, antioxidant vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Bananas also act as prebiotics, and contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which eventually converts into the relaxing, mood-boosting and sleep-promoting hormones serotonin and melatonin.
Used here as an egg substitute, flaxseed provides a punch of fiber, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, a small amount of protein, and the antioxidant polyphenols called lignans. Pure honey provides small amounts of minerals and antioxidants with potential antiseptic and antibacterial properties (more so with local honey); while olive oil contains heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats and vitamin E.
Dense, yet soft, and just enough sweet, my buzzed rye-sorghum banana bread is the prescription for a cozy spring weekend. We’re more for quickbreads ticking the dessert box, but with its whole grain base and the addition of coffee, this one could easily fit elsewhere — swipe on some nut or seed butter and call it a special breakfast, brunch or snack.
Whatever your time preference, I do hope you enjoy a slice, and keep it away from those bees!
Tell me… Riddle me this: Banana bread — breakfast or dessert?
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 6 Tbsp water
- 2 bananas, peeled and mashed (to yield about 1 cup) + 1 banana, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 Tbsp pure honey
- 2 Tbsp coffee concentrate or brewed espresso (see HGN Notes)
- 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup rye flour (see HGN Notes)
- 1/2 cup sorghum flour (see HGN Notes)
- 1/4 cup oat flour
- 2 Tbsp tapioca (or arrowroot) starch
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350° F with a rack in the middle position. Grease an 8- x 4-inch loaf tin; set aside.
- In a large bowl, briefly stir together the ground flax and water; set aside 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture forms a gel. Add the mashed bananas, oil, honey, coffee concentrate or espresso, yogurt and vanilla extract, and stir to combine.
- In another bowl, or on a large piece of waxed paper, sift together the flours, tapioca or arrowroot starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and quickly fold it in; avoid overmixing. The batter will be thick and sticky. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin, and spread the top evenly with a rubber scraper. Lay the two banana halves over, cut-side up, in whichever pattern you like.
- Transfer to the preheated oven; bake until golden brown and a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. (If the bread is getting too brown toward the end, cover loosely with a piece of foil. Alternatively, to give it an extra browning, leave the tin in the turned off oven for 5 minutes after baking.)
- Remove the tin from the oven, and allow the bread to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes. When cool, run a sharp knife around the edges to help loosen. Invert the bread onto your hand or a plate, then turn it back over so the banana halves are facing up. Continue to cool another 10 to 20 minutes, then slice with a serrated knife and serve.
- Store in a tightly sealing container or wrapped in plastic wrap or foil at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer keeping, the bread can be refrigerated (same container/wrapping instructions as above) up to 5 days. To freeze, tightly wrap a fully cooled loaf (whole or sliced), or leftover individual slices, in plastic wrap, then place into a freezer safe zipper-top storage bag for 2 to 4 months. Thaw the frozen bread in its packaging at room temperature or in the refrigerator before serving.
For a 100% GF bread, substitute the rye flour with a similarly "heavy-weight" gluten-free flour 1:1, such as buckwheat, quinoa or millet. Though not tested, I am fairly confident the aforementioned direct substitutions would be fine. You may be able to get away with a 1:1 replacement of the rye with a nut or seed flour/meal, or a bean/legume flour, but these are more dense and may require additional tweaks to amount of liquid, fat, and/or leavener.
+ Replace the split banana on top with other fresh fruit of choice, like whole small strawberries, blueberries or blackberries, or thin slices of pear, apple or blood orange.
+ Make these vegan with maple syrup in lieu of honey.
+ Swap 2 large eggs for the flax-water "egg," or opt for 2 chia "eggs" instead (let 2 Tbsp chia seeds gel with 6 Tbsp water).
+ Add a crunch to the top with crushed coffee beans, chia or poppy seeds, or coarsely chopped raw nuts.
These slices are a pretty good size, and you could easily (with a sharp serrated knife) slice the bread into 10 portions instead of 8. Each slice will now be only about 174 calories, 6 g fat, 27 g carb, 11 g sugar, and 2.5 g each protein + fiber.
An HGN original recipe.
Kohana Coffee recently sent me a bottle of cold-brew concentrate to try — perfect timing to caffeinate by glass + by slice! My rye-sorghum banana bread is entered in the KC recipe contest, and voting begins 1 April if you’re interested in supporting me. While I did receive a free sample, I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
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